Advertising dollars fluctuate with the ups and downs of the economy, making many marketers worry about the impact the current economic times will have. Savvy marketers realize the importance of marketing in a down economy, however blindly spending dollars on all mediums will no longer be an acceptable approach as budgets tighten and accountability increases. With potentially lower budgets, marketer will need to maximize the return on every dollar spent, something best realized online.
It’s no surprise that traditional advertising mediums are expected to suffer in this economy, while online marketing is expected to grow. EMarketer predicted that online advertising spending in America, will increase by 8.9% in 2009 and for good reason.
Online marketing has shown to be a viable source to drive brand awareness and consideration in addition to sales and leads. However, simply shifting spend to online is not the answer, but instead ensure that your online marketing is measurable, generates an ROI and is focused on the long-term.
Focus on Measurable Results
As opposed to most traditional marketing mediums, online efforts can be tracked. Depending on your analytics platform, they can be tracked down to a user, area, time, source, you name it. Platforms such as Omniture SiteCatalyst allow for unlimited tracking variables, enabling you to segment your data in many ways. Don’t stop at just off-site data such as click-throughs and impressions, but integrate and track on-site metrics such as conversions, user paths, bounce rates, etc. Combining tracking variables with off-site and on-site metrics help to qualify and focus marketing efforts.
Generate a True ROI
Effective tracking allows for fully measurable results used to produce a true ROI. For starters, each marketing activity should have a specific ROI. This is easier for PPC and affiliate marketing efforts but more complicated for such activities such as SEO and link building. Regardless, all online marketing services should be separately tied to the bottom line and given a unique ROI.
If you are using an SEM agency or consultant, make sure their services are being figured into an ROI. A positive ROI on PPC management might quickly dive into the red once the $2,000/month you are spending on an agency is factored in. Many agencies hide behind an ROAS rather than a true ROI.
Focus on the Long-Term
While marketing budgets should be allocated to the the most effective activities, it’s easy to take a short-term approach and not invest in a longer, sustainable strategy. Activities such as paid search and email marketing generally produce the best return, especially in the short-term, but investing in such things as web analtyics and a blog for instance will help ensure your future online success well past a recession.
Have the patience to setup A/B and multivariate tests using analytics, invest in your blog and create a social media strategy. These example strategies take longer to produce a return, but can have a huge impact on your website objectives and business goals.
Rather than becoming stagnate during a recession use it as an opportunity to innovate and expand efforts online. With proven effectiveness and fully measurable results, focusing your marketing dollars to online will prove to have the greatest short and long-term return.